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Programs How long does it take to obtain a PhD?

  1. Feb 28, 2010 #1
    As stated in the title, how long does it take to obtain a PhD for someone with an B.Sc. undergraduate degree, but without a master's degree? I would like to know the average time, as well as the shortest time possible. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2010 #2


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    This varies quite a lot with the place where you plan to get your PhD and the subject. Which country are you in, and what field are you asking about?
  4. Feb 28, 2010 #3
    Oops, apologies, I forgot to include that info... :uhh:

    I am referring to a PhD in Physics. I am currently residing in Singapore but I am intending to pursue my post-grad studies in either US or UK.
  5. Feb 28, 2010 #4


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    I think the average is probably somewhere in the region of 4 years, especially for a student entering with no masters level classes under their belt.
  6. Feb 28, 2010 #5
    In the UK.
    In the US, it's often a minimum of 5 years for a combined ms/phd and it usually ends up in the 6-8 year range. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v431/n7006/full/nj7006-382a.html->it's from 2004, but the numbers haven't changed much.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Feb 28, 2010 #6
    Just a word of advice, that information is going to be totally useless to you. Your Ph.D. is done when it's done, and there is no way of predicting how long that is.

    Median time in the US for physics is about five years, but it can go anywhere from four to eight.
  8. Feb 28, 2010 #7
    How is this possible, that it's so fast in UK?

    In Poland we have 3 years Bachelor's degree, 2 years Master's degree, and then PhD that takes about 4-5 years, which gives 10 years.
  9. Feb 28, 2010 #8
    In the UK the length of funding is set at 3 years, so this is the aim though more students are finding that they overrun - generally from 6 months to a year.

    One of the reasons for the short time is that the set-up is different in the UK than it is in the USA: UK PhD students have to take a minimal amount of credits, and so start their research immediately. Also, undergraduate degrees contibute to this a little: in the UK, degrees will be 4 or 5 years and the student will only take one or two subjects throughout: a physics degree will only need classes in physics and maths, and generally it is not an option to choose classes outside of this.
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